TIGHT HEADS: Wanderers find another gem, ref reaches milestone and Tahs welcome returns

RD 12: Hamilton v Singleton, Wanderers v Nelson Bay, Southern Beaches v University, The Waratahs v Lake Macquarie, Merewether Carlton v Maitland.

RD 12: Hamilton v Singleton, Wanderers v Nelson Bay, Southern Beaches v University, The Waratahs v Lake Macquarie, Merewether Carlton v Maitland.

Wanderers coach Viv Paasi will have some selection headaches after the debut of flanker Sam Schmidt in the 43-23 win over Singleton on Saturday.

Schmidt, a coal miner, came to the club this year after moving from Mudgee for work. With Bailey Hefren out with a leg cork, Schmidt was given his chance in the top grade against the cellar-dwellers and delivered a man-of-the-match effort.

“His work rate was really high and everything he’s been taught over the last few months, he was able to bring that to the table in first grade,” Paasi said. “It felt like he’d been there for a while.”

He said Schmidt would get another chance but Hefren had also been in top form.

“He’s definitely earned his jersey for this weekend and that’s where we are at at the moment,” Paasi said of Schmidt. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back from injury and whatnot and there’s a lot of really good competition for a jumper from one to 15, so it’s exciting times.”

** Rob D’Elboux will join an exclusive group when he referees the Merewether-Maitland match at Townson Oval on Saturday.

D’Elboux will become the seventh referee to control 150 Premier 1 games. He officiated his first in 2006 and has gone on to Country level.

** Waratahs coach Carl Manu welcomes back prop Talanoa Taufaao and winger Chase Hicks from suspension for the crunch match with Lake Macquarie on Saturday.

Both missed the 25-all draw with Merewether last week and their return will soften the blow of losing Dylan Heins (back) and fullback Pat Ingall (concussion). Fly-half Dane Sherratt passed a concussion test.

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